Life Behind a Smile

⚠️ Trigger Warning⚠️

Life Behind a Smile

When we think of someone who had/has a hard life, we may think of someone who may seem emotionally unstable, or suicidal, and we may even just assume from the way they act, or even just the way they look/dress. Today I’m going to be talking about someone who doesn’t fit under those standards. Someone who may just seem like they’ve had a relatively normal and happy life, but definitely hasn’t and as well on how their past has made them the way they are today.

Helen (Alias) and I have been close friends since freshman year. I remember clearly when she first walked into my classroom. It was period 5 and Helen walked in, she dressed like your average teenager and always had a smile on her face. Helen always had nice things to say about anyone and easily got along with everyone she talked to, which is why I was surprised the further I talked to her and learned about her. 

Helen was born in Worcester and lived with her mom until she was 11, After her birth she moved to many places, but mostly stayed in California where she was left at strangers’ houses. These strangers have done drugs in front of her, abused her, and pretended she didn’t exist. She was also left with her aunt many times when she was young too, who even did unspeakable acts with other people in front of Helen and her little brother. This affected her tremendously and during her early years of ages 8-11, the lack of affection she was getting was starting to affect Helen. The little to no affection she got made her find other ways to get it, from just having friends, to her committing things no child should be doing with her classmates. This was all caused by the fact she didn’t learn other ways to show people the correct kind of affection for a young girl like her, along with learning and seeing that type of behavior happen right in front of her.

Helen moved in with her Grandmother at the age of 11, with her little brother. Helen was considered a troublemaker when she was living with her grandmother.  she was ignoring all the signs of affection that were shown to her, she was also being very aggressive towards her grandmother who tried helping her. Helen by that age was used to getting things done her way, and never properly being taught the correct ways to behave, and she also had so much anger she didn’t know how to control and handle it. Taking care of her younger brother by herself, and just trying to stay alive with no one by her side were some of the many things that she didn’t have to deal with once getting into DCF custody. Because of this, she moved in with her aunt when she was 14 where she began going to North High School in Worcester. I got the pleasure of meeting her

and remained friends with her throughout the years even though Covid where we had little to no communication with each other. 

Now you might be wondering why exactly I decided to write about this, and the answer is relatively simple and pretty self-explanatory. Our system needs a change. Countless children lose their innocence daily. We as a society failed Helen. Helen ignored the clear signs of neglect as well as homelessness in her younger years of life. situations like these are so much more common than they may sound. Events similar to what she experienced can shift the way people live their entire lives, and it needs to be changed. A child should not be worried about when their next meal will be, as well as being worried for their younger sibling too. Helen is one of the strongest people I have ever met, and the fact that no one seems to care for her past because of how happy and confident she is now is ridiculous. Pasts like this NEED to be talked about, to be stopped, and to prevent children from maturing at such a young age like hers. The system failed her, and the system is there for this exact reason, and what is it focusing on if it isn’t focusing on homeless children who are neglected, abused, and experience so much worse with obvious signs. 

When talking to Helen about this article I asked her if she could change her past right now would she? Her answer was no, even though she does wish her past was different nothing can change what she experienced and it has shifted her into the way she currently is, and she doesn’t want that to change. She said, “I don’t think changing the past would make me who I am today and I like who I’ve become from where I have come from. If I was to change the past then I wouldn’t be in Worcester and meet all my amazing friends and some of my family I was never allowed to see.”

Now for the real question. How is Helen now and what does she plan on for her future? Helen plans to become a Neonatal Nurse Practitioner in the future which means she takes care of premature babies. She claimed that she wanted to get into this career since when she was younger her parents never decided to bring her to the doctors. When she was a baby she was addicted to illegal substances, and Helen claims to want to make sure that she can help any child from the first breath that any baby she meets takes.